LAKEWOOD — Eric Lauer made the play about which most people who attended Friday night’s game at Lakewood Stadium will be talking.
Lauer, Midview’s all-district receiver, had a fantastic catch of a line-drive pass from Cody Callaway for a 72-yard touchdown. Lauer got two steps ahead of the Lakewood defensive backs, pulled down the ball with one hand near midfield, tucked it to his chest and outraced the defense the rest of the way to give the Middies a 10-point lead late in the third quarter.
“Eric’s one-handed catch for the touchdown set the mood,” Midview linebacker Andrew Carlson said.
Sure, that reception was highlight-reel stuff, but the mood for the evening was set by Midview’s defense, which played marvelously for most of the game and was the main reason the Middies defeated the Rangers 24-7.
With the exception of a letdown in the final two minutes of the first half, in which the Rangers scored their only points of the game, Midview’s defense carried the weight for an offense that needed awhile to get untracked.
“We’ve been sputtering on offense lately,” Midview coach Bill Albright said. “Maybe we need a return to the basics. We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half, and we have to stop digging a hole for ourselves.”
Midview’s normally smooth-running offense gained only 105 yards in the first half. A field goal from Brendan Matcham and a touchdown on a 44-yard drive — all on runs by Brett Bartone — had Midview owning a slim lead at halftime.
“The catch by Eric definitely gave us the spark we needed on offense,” Albright said.
The defense needed no such ignition. Midview sacked Lakewood’s Tommy Fuller four times, with Carlson in on two of those sacks — one solo and one with Steve Kozel. Bartone and Brett Zupancic had the others. The Middies forced Lakewood to punt eight times.
“I’m just glad we bounced back from Avon,” Carlson said of a 28-0 loss last week. “It was a lot of leadership by the seniors.”
The victory made Midview 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the West Shore Conference. Lakewood fell to 3-5 and 2-3 in the WSC.
“We needed to get back that mentality we had in the first five games,” Carlson added. “We needed a swagger, and to be the football team we were.”
“The defense played well,” Albright said. “Andy played a great game, getting a lot of pressure. (The defense) has played well the whole season. Even against Avon they stood their ground. It could’ve been worse.”
The letdown came after Bartone’s touchdown with 1:54 to go in the first half put Midview ahead 10-0. A kickoff out of bounds, a 15-yard gain on a rollout pass, a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty, a 14-yard run and two pass plays covering 16 yards gave the Rangers their TD with six seconds left.
Midview put away the game when Callaway passed 19 yards to Zac Wilson for a score with 3:34 remaining, capping an
11-play, 61-yard drive that took 4:46 off the clock. A 7-yard catch by Jack Duffner with the Middies facing fourth-and-5 at the Lakewood 31 was the key play.
ONE FOR THE SCOUTS: Likely the prettiest pass thrown by Callaway, a Division I college prospect, was one in the first half on which he rolled to his right at Lakewood’s 34-yard line, threw across his body and hit Lauer in stride in the end zone. The touchdown completion was negated by a penalty for an ineligible receiver downfield.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135